Monthly Archives: November 2015

Boredom and Technology

I really liked the article “The Myth of the Disconnected Life” and how it talked about using technology to foster deeper historical context and build community. It was an unexpected but pleasant take on the role of technology in our lives.

I think the thing that’s most striking to me about technology is how quickly everything changes. When I think about my own life… I first got a smart phone 2 years ago when I moved to Blacksburg, now I couldn’t imagine not having one. My family had dial up internet almost until the time I graduated high school. It was only a few years ago when the idea of a technology sabbath would have seemed like a totally foreign concept. The number of new technologies or programs I’ve learned how to use since starting my PhD couldn’t be counted on 2 hands. One of my fears about my PhD is that the technology in my field is evolving so quickly that the skills I have spent years learning during my time as a student won’t even be relevant in a few years. It’s hard to even fathom what a few more years of technological advancement will look like. Can technology (at least in the context of the kind of technology we use in our every day lives) continue to evolve as quickly as it has in our own lifetimes? Probably. But as long as that advancement is in the direction of more efficient progress, that sounds like a great thing.

I heard a podcast the other day called “Am I Boring you?” that talked about how researchers are trying to investigate what at first seems like a really obvious question: Why do we get bored? and do some people get bored more than others? but it turns out researchers don’t have a great grasp on why exactly people even get bored in the first place. One of the theories that sticks out in my memory of the podcast was the theory that we get bored because it offers an evolutionary advantage. An organism that can do the same thing over and over without learning anything new from it isn’t a desirable evolutionary trait. So boredom gives us a a drive to learn new things and to develop new skills. Boredom seems inextricably linked to our interactions with technology. When we are bored, we turn to our phones or our computers to entertain us. As long as boredom is driving us to use technology to learn new things and develop new skills, it is serving an important role in our lives.

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